TIME Careers & Workplace

15 Things Successful People Do on Monday Mornings

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Jeffrey Coolidge—Getty Images

Those first few hours after the weekend are critical. Start your week off right


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Monday mornings are the most critical time of the workweek, as they set the stage for the day and week ahead.

“Because you’ve stepped away for a couple days, these back-to-work mornings are the most memorable for the rest of the week,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. “They influence your mindset in a positive or negative way, depending on what actions you decide to take.”

Most successful people are keenly aware of the typical Monday morning workplace dynamic of unanticipated events, overflow of communications, and general chaos. “But after weathering hundreds of them, they realize they must gain control and stay upbeat,” Taylor explains. “They take extra steps to compensate for this busy time of the week, and apply their best management skills to ensure that the day unfolds as smoothly as possible.”

Here are 15 things successful people do on Monday mornings:

They wake up early and exercise.

This gets your circulation going and helps you stay alert, putting you at an advantage for a productive week ahead. “You’ll get your endorphin rush, which will help your mood, too,” Taylor explains.

They eat a healthy breakfast.

On Monday morning, you want to handle everything you have control over. Eating breakfast is one of those things. “You don’t want to be staring at the clock, awaiting lunchtime as your stomach growls at morning meetings,” she says.

They arrive early.

Do not succumb to the snooze button. “Commutes are bad on Monday, so beat the odds,” Taylor says. Plus, getting in earlier than others will help make Monday morning seem more like the afternoon, because you’ll have had a chance to breathe before responding to the barrage of people and issues. “Being an early bird will give you some wiggle room for the unexpected at work, not to mention any important personal matters that may arise,” she says.

They clear their desk and desktop.

“Hopefully you already did this before you left on Friday,” Taylor says. “But if you didn’t, get this out of the way, or you might add to Monday stresses in a sea of disorganization.” Organize and prioritize your files. Put aside unimportant paperwork, and keep critical files easily accessible. You want to be prepared when you, your boss, or colleagues need something at the last minute.

They carve out time for unexpected projects and tasks.

Successful individuals expect the unexpected on Monday, she says. “Your boss, team members, or staff may have remembered some loose ends over the weekend,” she says, “so you’re wise to build in some extra downtime on Monday morning.”

They greet their team and boss.

This is important to do first thing every morning to keep morale high, but on Monday it’s particularly valuable, as your team needs a special boost. “Ideally, you’ll spend an few extra minutes with your colleagues on Monday mornings,” Taylor explains. “It reinforces a sense of purpose and community for everyone, including you.”

They update their to-do list and goals.

“Get yourself current on priorities and tasks,” Taylor suggests. Then set five to eight goals for the week.

“Accomplished professionals have several goals in mind for the day and week,” she says. “They know that if all goals aren’t achieved, they can take pride in accomplishing most of them, and there’s next week to achieve additional objectives.”

They visualize the week’s successes.

By envisioning the positive outcomes of various projects at hand, you can work backwards and determine the necessary steps to get your desired results.

They screen emails for urgent requests.

You can sink into email oblivion if you don’t scan your inbox for urgency, Taylor says. “Star emails that are priorities, and think quality, not quantity,” she says.

They tackle the tough challenges first.

The least desirable but critical projects are easy to put off, but your energy is stronger in the morning, so that’s the ideal time to confront the most difficult assignments.

They make an extra effort to smile.

“It might be the last thing on your mind, but overcompensating for the pressure-cooker morning will help you get through it,” she says. You may well stand out in the crowd, but your smile will likely be contagious, helping both you and team members relax.

They add a “blanket of humanity” to their emails.

It’s tempting to power through all your emails in the most efficient way on Monday mornings. But before you hit Send, read them over to ensure that they’re friendly and clear. “Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes,” Taylor says. “It’s relatively easy to appear curt when you’re in a hurry, along with the impersonal nature of emails and texts. You want to mitigate false starts and misinterpretations.” One way to do this: Start the email by saying “Hi” and “I hope you had a great weekend.”

They’re able to say no.

“On Monday mornings, there will be many distractions–from people to emails to calls, meetings, offers for meeting in the break room, and so forth,” Taylor explains. “Successful people can diplomatically and politely say no to colleagues by offering to engage at a later time.”

If your boss needs you, that is clearly an exception. However, if you have crucial calls to make or meetings to attend, give your boss the heads-up. “It’s stressful to be a people pleaser, particularly on Monday mornings,” she says. “Generally, no one ends up being pleased, as you can’t do your best work with conflicting priorities.”

They stay focused.

Successful people don’t dwell on any challenging events that occurred over the weekend or other frivolous thoughts. “Compartmentalize by putting them in a separate box as you start your week,” she says.

They remember that there is Tuesday.

“In all the chaos, it’s easy to believe that the world will cave if you don’t solve all Monday’s problems on Monday,” she says. “But when the dust settles at the end of the day, you may realize that certain tasks could have waited.” Sometimes, you obtain more information over time that enhances your decision-making process. Or you may find that certain problems you’re pondering will resolve themselves.

Monday morning can challenge even the most industrious, successful business leaders. “But if you compensate for all the anticipated distraction and intensity by remembering to focus, plan, and stay calm, you won’t relive Monday all over again on Tuesday,” Taylor concludes.

Read more from Inc.com:

The Most Important Success and Happiness Rules I’ve Learned From My Mom

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

Steve Jobs’s 13 Most Inspiring Quotes

17 Things Happy People Say Every Day

12 Words That Will Change Everything You Think About Entrepreneurship

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